Think your child may be ready to start reading? A child with a head start on reading and literacy has a greater chance of success in the first years of school and is more likely to finish college compared to children who begin to read at a later age. There are a number of methods available to begin assessing your child's early reading potential.
Does Your Child Pretend to Read?
One of the first things a child will do when they have reached an age where they're ready to begin reading is to pretend to read their picture books. This is even more true for children who have been read to consistently by their parents.
Children who are ready to begin developing early literacy skills will often follow along with the words in a book, pointing with their finger while reciting the story from memory. Unless it's a story they are intimately familiar with, the words won't likely match what is actually written. However, this is an early indicator that they are ready to begin learning their letters and start putting words together.
Recognition of Letters
Parents can also examine their child's letter recognition skills as an indicator of early reading potential. Children may begin to recognize and say letters of the alphabet on their own when they're ready to begin the reading process.
As children begin to grasp the concept of letters and words, they will often begin pointing out letters they recognize in their everyday life – in their favorite story books, on cereal boxes, on street signs, and anywhere else they see them. You can help your child then they reach this stage by working with them to sound out letters to make word sounds. Sounding out each letter phonetically will help them further develop early reading skills.
Additional Signs of Early Reading
Other signs that your child is beginning to develop early literacy skills include recognition of how books work. Does your child understand when a book is upside-down that it should be turned over to be read?
Does he or she seem to recognize that pages are turned from front to back, and that when a book is closed the story is over? Understanding these "book concepts" means they're ready for more and that their knowledge can be built upon to begin additional early reading skills.
Children often pretend to write as they begin to have an interest in reading. Making "play letters" or pretending to write their names can indicate a child is ready to learn early reading fundamentals. Many children often play at writing the letters in their names long before they can actually form the letters properly.
Finally, consider your child's attention span when assessing early reading potential. Every child is unique and will learn at their own pace, when they're ready. Children who can't yet sit through a reading of their favorite storybook are probably not yet ready to begin reading.
Children who make every effort to pretend read, write letters, understand books, and love hearing their favorite stories read again and again are likely ready for early literacy fundamentals like letter recognition and phonics.